Warren Central vaults into finals

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

Vicksburg High sophomore Kendra Sims (14) scores two of her 11 points in front of Provine’s Christie Smith (15) and Mardysa Butler in the first half of the Missy Gators’ 60-51 loss in the Warren Central Classic on Thursday. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/5/03]It didn’t take long for a close first quarter to become a blowout.

Cookie Johnson and Carla Latham each scored 14 points as the Lady Vikes (6-4) outscored the Jim Hill 35-9 in the second and third quarters for the win, 64-29.

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Warren Central’s defense held Jim Hill to 12-of-41 shooting for the night. The Lady Vikes also outrebounded the Lady Tigers 37-18.

Helped mostly by shooting 7-for-9 on free throws, Warren Central took an 11-6 lead in a slow-paced opening quarter.

The Lady Vikes continued to take advantage of Jim Hill’s over-aggressiveness in the second quarter. By halftime, WC had 26 shots from the stripe, compared to 8 attempts by Jim Hill. The Lady Tigers’ LaDonna West even defied the odds by fouling out before halftime, and three other Jim Hill players were handcuffed with three fouls.

Johnson made the most of the fouls, shooting 4-of-6 on free throws during the Lady Vikes’ 12-0 run that ended the second quarter and gave WC a 29-11 lead at the break.

“I didn’t think we played that good, especially in the first half,” WC coach Donny Fuller said. “I thought we came out and really weren’t focused. If we had played like we were supposed to, instead of being up 18, we would have been up 30.”

The Lady Vikes turned up the intensity in the second half, especially on defense. Warren Central outscored Jim Hill 17-4 in the third quarter before allowing its reserves to play out the rest of the game.

“We didn’t play hard in the first and second quarters,” Latham said. “We were just lagging, but then in the second half we always like to keep up and keep playing. That’s just the kind of team we are, a second-half team.”

Provine 60, Vicksburg 51

Vicksburg High tried stalling, and then running, hoisting 3-pointers and driving for layups. None of it was enough to topple fifth-ranked Provine.

Sandra Harper hit four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with a game-high 18 points to lead the Lady Rams (9-1) to a 60-51 win over Vicksburg (7-3) for the second time this season. Provine beat VHS 79-55 in the Coca-Cola Classic tournament in November.

Tiffany Hubbard led VHS with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Kristin Ellis had 12 points and Kendra Sims added 11.

“I thought things worked pretty good. They’re the No. 5 team in the state. We played them right down to the wire. I’m real proud of them,” VHS coach Mike Coleman said.

Provine took control of the game late in the third quarter, when a series of badly missed shots by Vicksburg were rebounded by Provine and turned into points on the other end of the floor.

Aneshia McBride’s 3-pointer keyed a 15-6 run over the last five minutes of the third quarter and gave Provine its biggest lead of the game, 45-34, at the end of the period.

“I thought we did a good job. We just didn’t shoot the ball real well, I didn’t think,” Coleman said. “We missed a couple of outside, open 3s and missed a couple of layups. If we made those couple layups, it could have been a whole different ballgame coming down the stretch.”

Midway through the fourth quarter, VHS mounted its last charge. Cre’Tarsha Taylor and Erica Woodson each hit a 3-pointer and Ellis dropped in a layup to cut it to 55-49 with about two minutes to play.

Ellis missed a free throw after her layup, however, and Taylor missed a wide-open layup that would have cut the deficit to four points. Jessica Houston hit a short floater in the lane about a minute later and the Lady Rams went 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to hang on for the win.

“It was just one of those days. We felt good to get out of here with a win,” Provine coach Barbara Hartzog said.

Sports writer Ernest Bowker contributed to this report